SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. â€“ When I last left off, it was Saturday night in the desert and we were starving. After a little pool time at the Camelback Inn, we headed to Old Town Scottsdale to see what awaited us.
For dinner, we revisited the Brat Haus, which pretty much makes sense, given its perfect location, and, of course, sausage. When we ate there last March I thought it was good but maybe not great. Saturday, my spicy brat was excellent â€“ but different than how us Milwaukeeans eat them. More char-grilled, this place is a solid choice for visiting Midwesterners. And if youâ€™re not a sausage fan (is that possible in Wisconsin?) there are some other great menu choices from the schnitzel sub sandwich to garlic Belgian fries.
We only visited two Scottsdale bars on Saturday â€“ part of my goal on this trip has been to simplify a little and savor â€“ but they were two old favorites. First, we checked out Coach House, the oldest bar in Scottsdale, which isnâ€™t really saying much. Then, we walked over to Dos Gringos, a name youâ€™ve probably heard me mention many times if you read my articles and blogs.
Sunday morning, we said farewell to the Camelback Inn, and got to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick very early (for a change) to the already sold out Brewers-Diamondbacks game. This spectacular stadium that the Dâ€™Backs share with the Rockies, reminds me just how insufficient and dilapidated Maryvale seems in comparison. Obviously, the Crew will never get anything like Talking Stick, but if the Brewers plan to stay in the Cactus League (and I hope and pray that they do), they will need to come up with a plan more befitting a team thatâ€™s striving for World Series rings again someday.
Because the game was sold out, and our press passes arenâ€™t exactly tickets, we watched the game from the packed, sizzling hot outfield berm. Khris Davisâ€™ booming home run landed three feet in front of me, and Yovani Gallardo had a strong outing before the Brewers lost, 6-5. He helped his own cause, too, with an RBI single.
Remember, the scores donâ€™t matter so much out here, which is why it was a little weird that Ron Roenicke got tossed for arguing a play at the plate in the ninth. But I guess the managers are practicing their own skills here in spring training just like the players.
Sunday afternoon we checked into the Hotel Valley Ho, and I have officially solidified my opinion that this is my favorite hotel, anywhere. We stayed here several years ago, but not in rooms like this. My suite (which wasnâ€™t comped, but we paid a reduced media rate) is not only larger than my first apartment, it is decorated significantly more nicely than anywhere Iâ€™ve lived.
My Tower Suite looks like something out of an architecture magazine, which gorgeous high end mid-century modern design. In fact, this particular room has a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and other amenities that make it suitable for a long-term visit. That only fuels my daydream of a permanent spring training season that I stay here to enjoy forever. Furnishings at the Valley Ho come from places like Design Within Reach really give it that vintage â€˜50s feel without sacrificing comfort and luxury. There is no amount of gushing that could adequately describe how nice this room is.
But thatâ€™s just part of HVHâ€™s charm. The pool scene reminds me of HBOâ€™s "Entourage." Beautiful people lounging about â€“ mostly San Francisco fans, really â€“ we met tons of cool folks in the hot tub, including some front office people from the Giants, who let us try on their World Series rings. It was pretty perfect.
This morning, we met Kristin Heggli, who does the hotelâ€™s PR, for breakfast. We talked history, which thereâ€™s plenty of at the HVH. Wander the halls outside the executive offices on the second floor and youâ€™ll see vintage photos of famous guests from yesteryear. Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood, who were friends of the owners at the time, held their wedding reception here.
In 1973 the hotel was purchased by Ramada and the â€˜50s look was scrapped for "classic" â€˜70s decor. But donâ€™t worry, when the current owners took over in 2002 they initiated an $80 million project to restore HVH to its mid-century glory. They even got permission to build a new tower in 2008 that exceeds Scottsdaleâ€™s building height limit, and the new tower rooms closely adhere to the classic design of the rest of the property.
We were lucky enough to take a tour of the different styles of rooms. My takeaway: during high season, HVH can get pretty expensive, but itâ€™s not always. Rooms can occasionally be had for less than $100. You owe it to yourself to stay here if you ever visit Arizona. If only for the amazing smelling soap, Icelandic Moonflower, from Red Flower. Go ahead and laugh, but Iâ€™m not kidding.
Soon, weâ€™ll check out and head over to Maryvale for one more Brewers game, then itâ€™s back to Scottsdale to check into The Saguaro for our final night. Iâ€™ve made this trip so many times, but itâ€™s shaping up to be one of the absolute best. For more photos, and extra nuggets, check out my tweets and Instagram photos.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published April 25, 2017
While planning next week's trip Up North, I started wondering just how much of Wisconsin I've seen over these last 37 years. So, I downloaded a map and started drawing on it, including the route I have planned for next week.
Published April 14, 2017
Milwaukeeans love our 414, the area code covering the city, the county and parts of Muskego and Brookfield. It's been since 1947, when Bell Telephone established it, along with 715, in Wisconsin. But why did they pick 414?
Published April 12, 2017
Maybe it was all the hard living back then. Maybe it was all the mustaches. But how old was this motley Brewers Crew back in '82?
Published April 3, 2017
The Brewers lost 89 games in 2016, finishing 30.5 behind the Cubs. Then they got rid of Chris Carter, Martin Maldonado and Tyler Thornburg. Is there anywhere to go but up?
Published March 14, 2017
In a market with plenty of big box stores, how does owning a neighborhood Ace Hardware store in this era make sense? Easy, says owners Bob and Kristin Nell. It's about customer service.
Published March 8, 2017
You may be surprised to read this from OnMilwaukee Publisher Andy Tarnoff, but claiming newspapers are dead is at best myopic, and at worst, just wrong. They simply occupy a different place in society now.
Published Feb. 6, 2017
Perhaps you're in the mood for eating some midnight sushi or buying a Rolex. Or maybe you want to gamble on the sinking of the Titanic. Las Vegas is your place for weirdness. Here's just a sampling.
Published Jan. 17, 2017
I don't entirely know what we're watching here, but I know it's funny and extremely inappropriate.
Published Jan. 12, 2017
I'm very concerned about the problem of "fake news" and what it means for journalists, politicians and the media-consuming public. But, really, this isn't a new concern of mine. For many years, I've battled with the concept that the internet is always right.
Published Jan. 9, 2017
On Dec. 8, Larry Hansen was injured in a horrendous and freak accident by a presumed drunk driver. While working on his car in his Okauchee garage. Five surgeries and 42 pints of blood later, Hansen has lost a leg, has a broken back and faces more surgeries.